THE ALLIS FAMILY; OR, SCENES OF WESTERN LIFE
THE ALLIS FAMILY.
Mr. and Mrs. Allis lived away out West, on a broad prairie, where Mr. Allis
was busily engaged in "making a farm." Perhaps some of my young readers,
who have always been accustomed to see farms already "made," will not
understand what I mean by "making a farm;" and I will try to tell them.
First of all, let them try to fancy a large meadow, either perfectly flat
or a little uneven, as large, perhaps, as can be measured with the eye, and
sometimes without a single tree, or scarcely a clump of bushes. There will
be no fences in sight, and sometimes no streams of water, but the surface
of the ground is covered with high, coarse grass. This is what Western
people call a "prairie."
In order to "make a farm," this ground must be ploughed, or, as Western
people say, "broken up." Some of the children would smile, I think, if they
were to see a regular "breaking team" before a "breaking plough." This
plough is quite unlike that which is used in the older States, and it takes
five, six, and sometimes as many as eight yoke of oxen to draw it. This
ploughing is usually done in June. After ploughing, the ground must be
enclosed, and then it is ready for the seed.
Some people make curious mistakes when they undertake to make a new farm.
Mr. Allis was one of these persons. He arrived at the little town of B----,
with his family, late in the fall, and immediately set about looking for a
location. Several miles from B---- he found a place that seemed to suit
him. The soil was rich, and apparently inexhaustible; but it was poorly
watered, and destitute of any timber suitable for building or fencing, and
there was very little which was fit for fuel. The great thing he thought of
was a large farm.
After a while he found out his mistake, but it was too late for him to help
it, for his money was nearly all expended for land. But Mr. Allis was a
resolute man, and he immediately set himself to work to do the best he
could. It was a long walk to the grove where he went every day to cut down
trees for his cabin, and to split rails for his fence, and a whole day's
work to go twice with his oxen to draw the logs and rails to his farm. But
he rose early, and was ready to begin his work with the dawn. On rainy and
stormy days, when he could not be out, he was at work in a shop near his
house, making doors and window-frames, and cupboards, and other things for
his new house.
Early in the spring the cabin was reared, and soon all was in readiness for
the removal of the family, which consisted of Mrs. Allis, Mary, a distant
relative whose home was with her, and two little twin-daughters, Annie and
Susie, who were about five years old at this time. These little girls loved
each other very much, and usually played very pleasantly together. But it
was sometimes the case that, like other children, they had their little
troubles, and were selfish, and of course unhappy.
One day Mrs. Allis was very sick, and she called the little girls to her,
and told them they might go up-stairs and play, but they must try to be
very good girls, and very quiet, for she could not bear the noise of their
voices. The little girls loved their mother very dearly, and were very
sorry that she was so sick. So they promised to be good children, and then
away they skipped up-stairs on tip-toe, that they might not disturb their
At first there was the patter of light feet and a subdued murmur of voices,
but after a while scarcely a sound could be heard. Thus passed two hours,
or more, and at last Mrs. Allis sent Mary to see what they were about. Mary
reported that they were playing very pleasantly together, and seemed very
"But what can they be doing, Mary?"
"Oh, they have a whole regiment of ragbabies, besides the kittens, for
scholars. Susie says they are playing school."
At last it was tea-time, and, when the girls had eaten their supper, their
mother called them to her.
"Oh, mother! mother! we have had such a nice time."
"Softly, softly, children," said Mr. Allis; "be careful, or you will make
your mother sick again."
"Are you better now, mother?" said little Susie, going softly towards her
"Yes, my dear child, I am much better, and you two little girls have helped
to make me so."
"We, mother?" said Susie, while her black eyes sparkled at the thought. "I
wonder how we could make you better, when we have been all the while at
"I can guess how," said Annie. "Mother means we didn't make any noise:
don't you, mother?"
"Not just that, or rather a good deal more than that; but first tell me
what you played up-stairs."
"Oh, it was so pleasant: wasn't it? Why, mother, don't you think, we played
school; and first I let Susie be teacher, and then she let me; and we
played I was a little girl come to school, and by-and-by, when we got tired
of that, we got out the dolls, Bessie and Jessie, and the pussy, and then
we made three more little girls out of our sun-bonnets and Susie's pink
apron, and then we both played teacher, like Miss Jackson and Miss Williams
in the academy where we used to live, you know."
"Oh, yes, mother," interrupted Susie; "and, don't you think, sometimes
Annie would pull pussy's tail and make her say 'Mew,' and we made believe
that one of the little girls cried to go to her mother."
"Yes," said Annie, "and after a while we made believe she was naughty, and
sent her home."
"Very well, my dear; I see you have had a very pleasant time,-- much more
pleasant than if you had been cross and unkind to each other, or had made a
noise to disturb me. I see you have loved one another, and this is what has
made you so happy this afternoon. Tell me, now, which you had rather be,
teacher or scholar, when you play school."
"Oh! a teacher, a great deal, mother," said Annie.
"Then why did you not be teacher all the time, and let Susie be the
"That wouldn't be right. Susie likes to be teacher as well as I," replied
"But don't you think you would have been happier to have been teacher all
the time, Annie?"
"I did want to be at first, but then I thought Susie would like it too;
and, after all, it was just as pleasant."
"I presume it was, my dear, and much more pleasant; no person can be happy
who is selfish. Do you know what it is to be selfish, my little Susie?"
"Yes, mother; you told Annie and I one day that it was selfish to want
every thing just to please ourselves."
"Do you love to run about the room, and laugh and play?"
"Oh, yes; you know we do, mother."
"Would you not rather have stayed down-stairs to play to-day?"
"Oh, yes," said Annie; "only--"
"Only what, my dear?"
"Annie means that you were sick, and didn't want us to make a noise; and,
really, we did try to play just as still as we possibly could."
"Why did you take so much pains to be quiet?"
"You told us to be still, didn't you, mother?"
"I did; but were you afraid I would punish you if you made a noise, Susie?"
"Oh, no, indeed; but we did not want to make you sick," said Susie,
clinging to her mother, and looking into her face with her loving eyes.
"Then you love your mother, do you, girls?"
"Indeed we do," said the children, in one breath.
"Well, supposing your mother had been well, and some poor sick woman, whom
you had never seen before, lay here sick in my bed: would it have been more
pleasant then for you to be very still, so as not to disturb her?"
The girls hesitated a moment, and then Annie said,--
"I think it would, mother; for it would be very cruel to make anybody
suffer, I have heard you say."
"Then you could love a poor stranger enough to deny yourself some of your
own pleasures for her sake; and you think it would make you happier to do
so, do you?"
"Oh, yes, I am sure we should be happier," said little Susie.
"Well, my dear children, I cannot talk any longer now, but I want you to
repeat this little verse after me until you can remember it:--
"Love is the golden chain that binds
The happy souls above;
And he's an heir of heaven that finds
His bosom glow with love."
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